In a time of increasing globalization of education, teacher educators from different countries are looking to each other’s practices for insights into the contextual underpinnings of their own schooling traditions, and other possible approaches to effective teaching and learning. Since the seminal TIMSS comparative video studies and ongoing comparative studies such as the Learners’ perspectives mathematics study run out of the University of Melbourne, educators have become aware of the opportunities opened up by video capture to gain significant insights into multiple cultural perspectives on a shared concern for quality learning.
The EQUALPRIME team has focused its attention on Grade 3&4 primary science classrooms, and the way competent teachers support student reasoning in science. We are looking not so much to borrow good practices from each other but to understand at a deeper level the fundamental nature of quality teaching and learning and its cultural expression. For the research team, the project is proving to be a significant professional learning experience, out of which we are generating insights into the core elements of good practice, and its variants.
The team meets regularly to share and discuss research data, and present together regularly at academic conferences and write joint articles. Team members have visited and presented at each others’ institutions and met with the teachers in the case studies in each of the countries and observed their science teaching. The partnership has fostered regular and close communication across the five institutions.
At the outset of the project the team developed a shared repertoire that outlines in detail the configuration of the research data collection approaches and methods. This has proven essential for sharing and analysis of data.
The sharing of research data is a key part of the partnership. The data includes videos of primary science classrooms, lesson plans, interviews with children and teachers, and student produced artefacts. The shared repertoire outlines the nature of the documents that are shared. Data sharing and discussion occurs at the regular research meetings that are held usually adjacent to academic conferences. The process provides an opportunity for team members to learn in detail about the teaching of science in each others’ countries. Watching videos together and commenting on the teaching practices provides opportunities to make cross-cultural comparison. In these meetings particular research foci are identified for closer interrogation and analysis.
The partnership has provided opportunities for building relationships between the academics from the institutions of the three countries.
In Australia, the two partner institutions, Deakin University and Edith Cowan University are funded for this project by the Australian Research Council
ARC Project ID: DP110101500
Administering Organisation: Deakin University
Project Title: Exploring quality primary education in different cultures: A cross-national study of teaching and learning in primary science classrooms
Project Leader: Russell Tytler
Other Institutions: Edith Cowan University
Research Grant : 2011-2013